How can we design a system to comprehend and manage something that has a trillion interconnected elements? Information Architecture (IA) is an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape. IA is the structural design of shared information environments.
Below are some other attempts to describe what Information Architecture is but click on the heading above to see three short videos by MAYA that, taken together, will give you a sense of this new design field and why it is important.
"Trillions" helps us see why information architecture will be increasingly important in the future. "Information" explains the special way the word is used in this context and "Architecture" simply explains how this borrowed term is used in the sense of "Information Architecture."
Historically the term "information architect" is attributed to designer and creator of the TED conference, Richard Saul Wurman. Wurman sees architecture as "used in the words architect of foreign policy. I mean architect as in the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work--the thoughtful making of either artifact, or idea, or policy that informs because it is clear."
Put another way, Information architecture is the expression of a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems. Among these activities are library systems, Content Management Systems, web development, user interactions, database development, programming, technical writing, enterprise architecture, and critical system software design.
Information architecture can refer to a structural design of shared environments, methods of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, and online communities, and ways of bringing the principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
The term information architecture describes a specialized skill set which relates to the interpretation of information and expression of distinctions between signs and systems of signs. It has some degree of origin in the library sciences. Many schools with library and information science departments teach information architecture.
In the context of information systems design information architecture refers to the analysis and design of the data stored by information systems, concentrating on entities, their attributes, and their interrelationships. It refers to the modeling of data for an individual database and to the corporate data models an enterprise uses to coordinate the definition of data in several (perhaps scores or hundreds) of distinct databases. The "canonical data model" is applied to integration technologies as a definition for specific data passed between the systems of an enterprise. At a higher level of abstraction it may also refer to the definition of data stores.